Is London the best place for Design Graduates


This is the first article to be written by Creativepool's writing competition winner, Alan Offord. Over the next few months he'll be looking at various topics including issues like the practice of free-pitching, ways designers stay motivated and more opinion led pieces like whether graphic design is relevant as we move towards a more tech-savvy do-it-yourself culture.

To kick things off, Alan's looks at why London is no longer the ideal destination for design graduates.


London: The best place for a design graduate?

I seem to have had a very love-hate relationship with the design scene in London. It's always seemed everything a young creative chap could aspire to (at least in my imagination, all the most interesting people, all the most interesting briefs, all the posh-est sandwiches etc. When I was studying all I wanted to do was move to London and experience life on the cutting edge of design, and every trip I took into the capital seemed to confirm these desires. I knew that soon I would be sipping coffee in bright clean offices in Shoreditch pouring over the latest prints from the latest photo-shoot.

Post-graduation was something of a reality check. Actually it was more like a bucket of icey water being poured over my head. It turns out my fantasy design job pretty much doesn't exist, and even if it does I'm never going to get close enough to even smell the coffee. What with the collective belt-tightening as the global recession continues to bite and the subsequent massive increase in the number of applicants for every job, the dream of London slipped through my fingers.

This is probably coming across as quite bitter towards an industry that has long been acknowledged as London-centric, and, on reflection, I am a little sore that most of the top London agencies don't seem to look much beyond their own doorstep. However once the tears had dried and I got over myself, it turns out there are plenty of opportunities if you are prepared to get out of the capital. FormFiftyFive, one of the all-time great design blogs, is based in Edinburgh with contributors from across the north and beyond. Even more exciting is the Thoughtful Six, an exceptionally bold and forward-thinking initiative by /Thoughtful/ and Stockport College, where the agency moved their entire studio onto campus for 6 months and employed a team of 6 students to work with them. Places like The Skiff in Brighton offer open co-working spaces for any creative to set-up a laptop and mix with a whole range of interesting people.

I think even if I had known all this, I still would have been lured in by the bright lights of the biggest city, drawn like a typography-obsessed moth to an S shaped light bulb. I feel that too many graduates are heading for the same, creatively saturated areas, instead of seeking out opportunities elsewhere. Where does the responsibility for this lie? Is it even a bad thing? The industry itself has to take some share of the blame with the most world-renowned events, D&AD's New Blood, happen in London, with nothing comparable anywhere else in the UK. But we, the next generation of designers, need to accept that London is not the only place where we can land that dream job.

About Alan Offord

Alan is a recent graduate from the University of the Creative Arts in Maidstone, Kent, where he studied Graphic Design. After a year spent doing placements at various agencies in London, Brighton and around Norfolk, he now works as a Junior Designer in Norwich at Soak Digital. When not writing for Creativepool, he blogs at Wordpress.


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